Monday, 1 July 2019

Travel troubles and some thoughts on language.

I think public transport hit a low for us yesterday.

When we arrived in Sanxenxo about ten days ago Phil thought he was being really clever taking a photo of the bus timetable before we left the bus station. This is a technique we have used many times in railway and bus stations all over the place. On this occasion it failed hopelessly. There were too many reflections to allow proper reading of the bus times. So on Saturday I walked up and noted down the bus times in the old fashioned way, using pencil and paper.

In theory, therefore, we knew that there should be a bus leaving O Grove at 5.00 pm. It was unclear what time it would arrive in Sanxenxo. It would obviously be too difficult for them to put up a list of even approximate times the buses were due in Sanxenxo but at least we had some kind of indication. Or so we thought! In fact it was a total fabrication.

We waited with a handful of others and nothing happened until somewhere close to 6.00 pm, when suddenly would-be passengers began to arrive from all directions, positivley crawling out of the woodwork!

 Eventually the bus arrived.

We made sure we were close to the front of the queue. A woman we had seen with a host kids had preceded us, however. She bought tickets from the driver and called out, “Vamos chicos” and despite protestations from those in the queue some fiteen youngsters clambered onto the bus, giving the excuse, “Estamos con nuestra madre”. If she was their mother, then I am a martian.

But we managed to get seats on a rapidly filling bus and off we went. At each top along the way we acquired more passengers until even the central aisle was full of (no doubt illegally) standing passengers. From then on the drivers stopped each time and apologised to the people waiting. “I am full to the brim (a tope). The next one leaves O Grove at 7.30 but when I get to Pontevedra I’ll have them send a back-up bus”. That must have been of little comfort to those left behind.

Such fun!

Later in the evening, over a drink with our friend Colin we set the world to rights as usual and discussed this and that, including language learning. We agreed that English verbs are relatively easy to learn, which allows speakers of other languages to make fairly rapid progress. In contrast the English have to get their heads around more complicated conjugations, as well as the vagaries of gender of nouns.

We did not get on to English word order which I found myself thinking about in the middle of the night for some reason. While we don’t have the strict rules the Germans have, there seem to be unwritten rules about order of types of adjectives. And so we happily talk about “a big, old, green chair” but find “an old, green, big chair” quite ridiculous.

Such are the vagaries of English language.

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